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Getting to know: Oklahoma basketball

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) look to tie up Oklahoma guard Trae Young (11) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) look to tie up Oklahoma guard Trae Young (11) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

After a much-hyped matchup between Oklahoma and Kansas at the end of January, the Sooners have moved in the wrong direction. Trae Young is having a harder time producing his unimaginable numbers. The Sooners have lost five straight games and winless in their last seven road games.

Once a Top 5 team in the nation, Oklahoma will likely drop out of the Top 25 polls entering Monday’s game (8 p.m., TV: ESPN) at Allen Fieldhouse. Since Oklahoma’s win over KU, when Hack-a-Dok was introduced, the Sooners own a 1-6 record.

“We are going to play a team that obviously beat us the first time we played them and we need to figure out a way to guard their guys,” KU coach Bill Self said. “If we do that, we will set up a big game Saturday (vs. Texas Tech).”

Once in the conversation of teams to compete for a Big 12 title, Oklahoma (16-10, 6-8 in conference) is tied for sixth place in the Big 12 standings alongside TCU and Texas. KenPom has the Sooners ranked 38th, sixth among conference teams.

“We need to do things better, make shots and get our spirits back up a little bit,” OU coach Lon Kruger told the Oklahoman. “When you're not making shots, it changes a lot of what you can do — what you want to do. You just keep trying to promote confidence, promote aggressiveness, keep promoting good basketball plays.”

Fun fact: Since Bill Self became the head coach at Kansas, the Jayhawks have never been swept by a Big 12 opponent in the regular season.

Series history: Kansas leads 146-67. The Sooners haven’t won in Allen Fieldhouse since 1993. Bill Self owns an 17-4 record vs. the Sooners while at Kansas.

BREAKING DOWN OKLAHOMA

TOP PLAYER

No. 11 — PG Trae Young | 6-2, 180, fr.

Oklahoma guard Trae Young (11) celebrates a bucket during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma guard Trae Young (11) celebrates a bucket during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

In a funk from the 3-point line, Young is still averaging 30.1 points and 8.4 assists per game in Big 12 play. He’s shooting 15 percent from deep in his last three games combined. He’s committed 90 turnovers in 14 conference games, adding 4.5 rebounds each outing.

Even if the Norman native has started to touch a freshman wall, he’s still on pace to shatter several records. With 100 made 3-pointers this year, he’s only 22 behind the NCAA freshman record, set by Steph Curry in 2006-07. He’s four made free throws from breaking the Oklahoma program record in a season (211, Stacey King in 1988-89).

Against KU this season: Scored 26 points on 7 of 9 shooting (10 of 12 at the free-throw line) with nine assists, four rebounds, two steals and five turnovers.

  • "I'm getting guarded like nobody else in the country is being guarded, scouted on like no one else in the country is," Young said. "It's a mystery coming out each and every game to try and figure out how a team is going to guard me and how I'm going to dictate how my team wins."

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 35 — F Brady Manek | 6-9, 210, fr.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) comes in for a shot against Oklahoma forward Brady Manek (35) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) comes in for a shot against Oklahoma forward Brady Manek (35) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

When Manek plays well, the Sooners usually are at their best. An efficient shooter, he’s connected on 41.4 percent of his triples in Big 12 play, averaging 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds. From Harrah, Okla., he’s made three-or-more 3-pointers in nine games this season.

Against KU this season: Made 4 of his 6 shots from the 3-point arc, finishing with 14 points and seven defensive rebounds in 31 minutes.

No. 0 — G Christian James | 6-4, 211, jr.

Oklahoma guard Christian James (0) hooks a pass behind Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma guard Christian James (0) hooks a pass behind Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

Scoring 20-plus points in two of the team’s last three games, James is averaging 11.8 points and 5.1 rebounds against Big 12 opponents. James is shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from the 3-point arc.

Against KU this season: Shooting 5 of 14 from the floor, he had 15 points, four rebounds and three turnovers.

No. 3 — F Khadeem Lattin | 6-9, 220, sr.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) and Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (3) battle for position in the paint during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) and Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (3) battle for position in the paint during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

The only senior on Oklahoma’s roster, Lattin is one block shy of tying the program’s career record. With 229 swatted shots, Lattin ranks eighth in Big 12 history. Lattin, who has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, is averaging 5.7 points and 5.4 rebounds in Big 12 play, leading the Sooners with 34 blocks. His mother, Monica Lamb, played for the WNBA’s Houston Comets.

Against KU this season: Only playing 20 minutes, he recorded eight points, three rebounds and two turnovers.

No. 1 — G Rashard Odomes | 6-6, 217, jr.

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) fights for a ball with Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (3) and Oklahoma guard Rashard Odomes (1) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) fights for a ball with Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (3) and Oklahoma guard Rashard Odomes (1) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

Odomes takes 73 percent of his shots at the rim, according to hoop-math.com. Known as a strong defender, Odomes is averaging 8.8 points during Big 12 play while shooting 52 percent from the field. He leads the Sooners in conference play with 26 offensive rebounds.

Against KU this season: He found his way to the free-throw line, making 7 of his 8 attempts on his way to nine points. He added three assists and three rebounds in 27 minutes.

ONE THING OKLAHOMA DOES WELL

Looking to run out in transition as much as possible, the Sooners remain a strong rebounding team. The Sooners are rebounding 69.9 percent of their opponents’ missed shots, which ranks third in the Big 12. They lead the conference with 27.9 defensive rebounds per game.

ONE AREA OKLAHOMA STRUGGLES

Starting to play teams for the second time in Big 12 play, the Sooners have been unable to register stops on the defensive end. Opposing teams have shot at least 45 percent from the floor in six of their last seven games. During that seven-game stretch, opposing schools are averaging more than 35 points in the paint per game.

MEET THE NEW RECRUITING CLASS

The Sooners signed Jamal Bieniemy, a 6-foot-4 combo guard, during the early signing period. The Katy, Texas native is ranked 126th in the nation by Rivals.

Oklahoma added a commitment from Kur Kuath, a 6-foot-9 forward with a 7-5 wingspan from Salt Lake Community College. He was averaging 11 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks at the beginning of February.

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 8.5. The biggest question with Oklahoma is whether its defense can regain its footing and pick up key stops. The Sooners’ offense looks a little worn down which was probably expected in the grind of a conference season. Desperate to end the losing streak, I expect Trae Young to have a big game, in the 35-point range, for his first game in Allen Fieldhouse. I just don’t think that’ll be enough to beat KU.

My prediction: Kansas 79, Oklahoma 74. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 14-12.

Reply 1 comment from Dirk Medema

Getting to know: West Virginia basketball

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) puts up a shot against Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) puts up a shot against Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia. by Nick Krug

After a three-game losing streak at the end of January, West Virginia is starting to look like one of the top teams in the Big 12 again with wins in three of its last four games.

Next up is a challenge that the Mountaineers have never accomplished: a win inside of Allen Fieldhouse. With ESPN’s College GameDay in Lawrence, 20th-ranked West Virginia will face No. 13 Kansas at 5:15 p.m. Saturday (TV: ESPN).

The Mountaineers (19-7, 8-5 Big 12) sit in third place in the conference standings, two games behind leader Texas Tech. They picked up a 16-point home win over TCU earlier this week.

“We don’t like them, they don’t like us,” Devonte’ Graham said Thursday. “Coach (Bob) Huggins gets $25,000 every time he beats us, so I don’t like that.”

In the latest KenPom rankings, Kansas is No. 13 and West Virginia follows at No. 14.

Fun fact: Under coach Bob Huggins, the Moutaineers have a 195-31 record when holding opponents to 69 points or less. They won 74 of their last 76 games when opposing teams don’t reach 70 points.

Series history: Kansas leads 8-4. The Jayhawks have a 5-0 record vs. the Mountaineers at Allen Fieldhouse.

BREAKING DOWN WEST VIRGINIA

TOP PLAYER

No. 2 — G Jevon Carter | 6-2, 205, sr.

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) tosses a pass under Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) tosses a pass under Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia. by Nick Krug

Leading the nation with 81 steals this season, Carter continues to bother opposing guards with his tight defense. In Big 12 play, he’s averaging 15.1 points on 31.8 percent shooting from the 3-point arc while dishing 7.2 assists per game.

From Maywood, Ill., he’s only scored more than 10 points in one of his last four games, struggling to find his 3-point stroke. Even without scoring, he’s second on the team with 4.5 rebounds in conference play. Defensively, he’s snagged a steal in 16 straight games.

Against KU this season: 14 points on 4 of 15 shooting (2 of 8 from 3) with three rebounds, four assists and one steal.

  • “I always believed in myself,” Carter said. “I always had a certain group of people that believed in me. I’ve always worked as hard as I can just to be the best I could.”

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 50 — F Sagaba Konate | 6-8, 260, so.

West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate (50) receives the applause of the crowd following a block against Kansas during the first half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate (50) receives the applause of the crowd following a block against Kansas during the first half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia. by Nick Krug

One of the most improved big men across the country, Konate has blocked 40 shots against conference opponents, ranking second in the Big 12. West Virginia’s most efficient inside scorer (converts on 72.2 percent of his shots at the rim, according to hoop-math.com), Konate (Kuh-NUH-teh) is averaging 12.2 points and 9.2 rebounds in Big 12 action.

Against KU this season: Blocked five shots and recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes.

No. 4 — G Daxter Miles Jr. | 6-3, 200, sr.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) defends against a drive by West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr. (4) during the second half, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) defends against a drive by West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr. (4) during the second half, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A strong slasher, Miles has struggled from behind the 3-point arc throughout the season. He’s only shooting 25.6 percent from 3 in Big 12 play, averaging 9.3 points. Usually a big piece of Press Virginia, he’s recorded a total of six steals in his last 10 games.

Against KU this season: Only shot 4 of 11 from the field on his way to nine points, adding four rebounds, four assists and two turnovers.

No. 15 — F Lamont West | 6-8, 230, so.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) defends against a shot from West Virginia forward Lamont West (15) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) defends against a shot from West Virginia forward Lamont West (15) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia. by Nick Krug

Becoming a more consistent shooter in recent games, West is averaging 9.7 points and 3.2 rebounds against Big 12 opponents. He’s shooting 39.1 percent from the 3-point arc, which ranks second on the team. He’s a strong offensive rebounder, but only takes 20 percent of his shots at the rim according to hoop-math.com.

Against KU this season: Scored seven points shooting 1 of 7 from the 3-point line to go along with six rebounds and a block.

No. 23 — F Esa Ahmad | 6-8, 230, jr.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) scoops in a bucket past West Virginia forward Esa Ahmad (23) during the second half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) scoops in a bucket past West Virginia forward Esa Ahmad (23) during the second half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia. by Nick Krug

Since returning from an NCAA suspension, Ahmad has been inconsistent in conference play. He’s recorded 15 or more points in four games and three points or less in three games. He still ranks third in scoring with 11.0 points against conference opponents. The Cleveland native has added 4.3 rebounds each night.

Against KU this season: In 28 minutes off of the bench, he had 16 points, five rebounds, five turnovers and two steals.

ONE THING WEST VIRGINIA DOES WELL

Beyond forcing turnovers, West Virginia ranks second in the Big 12 with a plus-3.4 rebounding margin (only behind Baylor’s plus-4.3). The Moutaineers have either matched or outscored opponents in second-chance points in 10 of their 13 conference games.

ONE AREA WEST VIRGINIA STRUGGLES

It’s a product of Press Virginia, but the Moutaineers commit a lot of fouls and send opposing teams to the free-throw line often. In Big 12 play, opponents are averaging nearly 24 attempts per game. Opponents have shot more free throws in nine of the team’s last 10 games.

MEET THE NEW RECRUITING CLASS

The Mountaineers signed four players in the November signing period and have a class than ranks 59th by Rivals. West Virginia will add 6-foot-10 forwards Derek Culver and Andrew Gordon, along with 6-foot guard Jordan McCabe and 6-foot-3 guard Trey Doomes.

Culver, who was originally signed to the ’17 class, plays at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. He was a four-star prospect out of high school. Doomes and McCabe are both ranked near the end of the Rivals Top 150.

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 3.5. Outside of KU’s offensive problems against Baylor, no Big 12 team has forced Kansas to play as poorly in a half as West Virginia in Morgantown. Of course, the Mountaineers couldn’t sustain the momentum and eventually lost by 5. The difference now is their offensive is performing at a higher level than the start of conference play. I think Esa Ahmad has a big game.

My prediction: West Virginia 74, Kansas 71. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 14-11.

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Getting to know: Iowa State basketball

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) rejects a shot from Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton (5) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) rejects a shot from Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton (5) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Iowa State sits at the bottom of the Big 12 standings but the Cyclones have a different look when they are playing at home. In their last three home games, they’ve beat a ranked opponent (Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma).

Kansas will look to solve the mystery of playing at Hilton Coliseum when the two schools meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday (TV: ESPN2).

The Cyclones (13-11, 4-8 Big 12) could be without point guard Nick Weiler-Babb, who has missed the last four games with left knee tendinitis. Weiler-Babb practiced for the first time in a few weeks Monday and Steve Prohm said he was considered questionable to play.

“I would bet that they’re lazer focused,” ISU coach Steve Prohm told the Des Moines Register of KU. “They still have an opportunity to win the league — one game out of the lead with six to go — and they play Texas Tech again. … We’ll get their No. 1 best shot. I wouldn’t expect anything different.”

Fun fact: In Iowa State’s home wins over ranked Big 12 opponents, freshman forward Cameron Lard is averaging 18.3 points and 12 rebounds.

Series history: Kansas leads 180-64. The Jayhawks have a 25-21 record at Hilton Coliseum with ISU winning two of the last three games in Ames.

BREAKING DOWN IOWA STATE

TOP PLAYER

No. 5 — G Lindell Wigginton | 6-2, 188, fr.

Iowa State's Lindell Wigginton (5) dribbles the ball around Texas Tech's Brandone Francis (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Lubbock, Texas.

Iowa State's Lindell Wigginton (5) dribbles the ball around Texas Tech's Brandone Francis (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Lubbock, Texas.

Scoring at least 20 points in nine games this season, Wigginton is averaging a team-best 17.7 points in Big 12 play. He’s shooting 42.6 percent from the 3-point line against conference opponents and 37 percent on 2-point shots.

With Nick Weiler-Babb out with an injury, Wigginton has shifted into the team’s point guard. He’s dished 23 assists in the team’s last four games. From Nova Scotia, Wigginton played at Oak Hill Academy last year and was a prep school teammate of Billy Preston.

Against KU this season: Scored 27 points off 10 of 20 shooting (4 of 8 from 3) in 40 minutes with two steals, two rebounds and three turnovers.

  • “He’s just learning the position, really,” said Iowa State coach Steve Prohm. “It’s trial by fire throwing him out there. He’s growing. … Lindell is terrific. I could sit up here and go on and on. He’s a terrific player.”

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 4 — G Donovan Jackson | 6-2, 173, sr.

Iowa State guard Donovan Jackson (4) celebrates a three pointer during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Iowa State guard Donovan Jackson (4) celebrates a three pointer during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Known as a 3-point shooter and talented defender, Jackson is averaging 15.2 points on 44.2 percent shooting from deep in conference play. He leads the Big 12 by making 92.3 percent of his free throws. According to hoop-math.com, he’s only taken 30 of his 298 shot attempts at the rim. In the team’s four Big 12 wins, Jackson is averaging 15 points.

Against KU this season: Drilled 6 of 14 3-pointers, scoring 20 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists.

No. 2 — F Cameron Lard | 6-9, 225, r-fr.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) has a shot stuffed by Iowa State forward Cameron Lard (2) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) has a shot stuffed by Iowa State forward Cameron Lard (2) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A mid-season addition to the starting lineup, Lard has emerged as the team’s most consistent player in Big 12 play. He’s averaging 15.7 points and 9.7 rebounds against conference opponents, adding a team-high 34 steals. Extremely efficient at scoring in the paint, Lard is shooting 64 percent from the field this year, which is on pace to break the Big 12 freshman record.

Against KU this season: Recorded a double-double with 15 points (7 of 10 shooting) and 10 rebounds while committing seven turnovers.

No. 33 — F Solomon Young | 6-8, 245, so.

Iowa State forward Solomon Young (33) shoots over Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State forward Solomon Young (33) shoots over Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in Ames, Iowa.

The only returning starter from last season, Young is averaging 7.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in Big 12 play but has only scored in double figures in two of the team’s last eight games. In conference games, he’s shooting 48.6 percent from the floor with 10 steals and nine blocks. He has a 7-foot-1 wingspan, the longest on the team.

Against KU this season: In foul trouble for the entire game, Young only played 15 minutes and scored one point without a shot attempt.

ONE THING IOWA STATE DOES WELL

In its last four home games, all wins, Iowa State is shooting 49 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line. They’ve proven they can score on tough defenses like Texas Tech and keep up with run-and-gun offense like Oklahoma. The Cyclones have an 11-0 record when shooting a better percentage than their opponent.

ONE AREA IOWA STATE STRUGGLES

Preferring to play fast and in transition, Iowa State isn’t efficient in its half-court offense. According to hoop-math.com, the Cyclones rank last in the Big 12 with a 47.5 shooting percentage when they aren’t shooting in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock.

MEET THE NEW RECRUITING CLASS

The Cyclones signed four players during the November early signing period, a class that ranks 11th in the nation by Rivals. They will add three players from Illinois: 6-foot-5 guard Talen Horton-Tucker (ranked 31st in the country), 6-6 forward Zion Griffin (ranked 84th) and 6-10 center George Conditt IV, plus Wisconsin native Tyrese Haliburton, a 6-5 point guard ranked 148th.

Along with the incoming freshmen, the Cyclones will add transfers Marial Shayok (averaged 8.9 points at Virginia) and Michael Jacobson (averaged 6.0 points and 6.2 rebounds at Nebraska).

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 6.5. Everyone knows about KU’s small margin for error this season, but it’s razor thin for the Cyclones. They need big nights from their top three scorers, but they are certainly capable of beating any team in the conference. I think Svi Mykhailiuk is the difference Tuesday, breaking out of his scoring slump from last week.

My prediction: Kansas 73, Iowa State 70. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 13-11.

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Getting to know: Baylor basketball

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) defends against a shot by Baylor guard Manu Lecomte (20) with seconds remaining, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) defends against a shot by Baylor guard Manu Lecomte (20) with seconds remaining, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

After back-to-back wins against Oklahoma State and Iowa State, Baylor will turn its attention to Kansas on Saturday as the Bears search for potential paths to the NCAA Tournament.

The Bears (14-10, 4-7 in Big 12) have lost eight games against ranked opponents entering Saturday’s 1 p.m. matchup against KU at the Ferrell Center (TV: CBS). They only have two wins versus teams ranked in KenPom’s Top 50, tied for the fewest among Big 12 teams.

"The good thing in the Big 12 is there's a lot of signature-win opportunities,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “There's not a bad loss out there.”

The Bears are ranked No. 40 by KenPom, seventh in the Big 12. They lost, 70-67, in their first game against Kansas on Jan. 20. Leading scorer Manu Lecomte was limited to 10 points but Baylor couldn’t hold onto a six-point lead with three minutes remaining.

"Second time, you're always looking at what was effective and trying to get more of that," Drew said. "And then the areas you needed to improve in and areas you needed to adjust, hopefully you make those adjustments now. They'll do the same. At the beginning of the game, you'll see what they adjusted to, what we adjusted to, and then it goes from there."

Fun fact: Baylor is 10-0 when leading at halftime, but the Bears have only led at half in one of their last 12 games.

Series history: Kansas leads 30-4. The Jayhawks have won 11 straight games. The last five have all been decided by six points or less.

BREAKING DOWN BAYLOR

TOP PLAYER

No. 20 — G Manu Lecomte | 5-11, 175, sr.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) pulls up for a three against Baylor guard Manu Lecomte during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) pulls up for a three against Baylor guard Manu Lecomte during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Ranking fourth in the Big 12 in scoring, Lecomte is averaging 16.8 points on 39 percent shooting from the 3-point arc and an 89 percent mark at the free-throw line. He made seven 3-pointers in a two-point loss to Oklahoma on Jan. 30.

The fifth-year senior has only attempted 27 of his 282 shot attempts at the rim, according to hoop-math.com. Lecomte (pronounced: MAHN-ew la-CONN-t), playing 33 minutes per game, owns a 1.65 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Against KU this season: Scored 10 points on 3-for-12 shooting with three assists and three turnovers in 37 minutes.

  • “He’s our floor general,” said Baylor center Jo Lual-Acuil. “He just brings a sense of calm to the team. We trust him when he has the ball in his hands, no matter what’s going on. He just finds a way to keep us all level-headed and get us to do the next right thing. He’s a great leader for us and we expect him in all situations to pull through for us.”

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 00 — F Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. | 7-0, 225, sr.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) floats a shot over Baylor center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) floats a shot over Baylor center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Since the start of Big 12 play, Lual-Acuil (pronounced: LOO-ahl ah-CHU-ill) is fifth in the Big 12 in rebounding (8.9 per game), fifth in blocks (2.1) and 14th in scoring (14.0). The sixth-year senior with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and 9-4 standing reach is shooting 48.7 percent in conference play.

Against KU this season: In 32 minutes, he had 14 points and 10 rebounds with two assists before fouling out.

No. 11 — F Mark Vital | 6-5, 230, r-fr.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for a rebound with Baylor forward Mark Vital (11) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for a rebound with Baylor forward Mark Vital (11) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Known for his high-flying dunks, Vital is averaging 7.3 points and 6.1 rebounds in Big 12 play. He’s started in the last nine games, ranking second on the team with 21 steals and third with 14 blocked shots. He’s a 50 percent free-throw shooter, opting to take a team-high 48.5 percent of his shots at the rim, according to hoop-math.com.

Against KU this season: Finished with nine points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes, turning the ball over twice.

No. 31 — F Terry Maston | 6-8, 225, sr.

Maston is shooting 50 percent from the field in Baylor’s last five games, averaging 11.4 points. Featuring a 7-foot wingspan, he ranks second on the team with 5.9 rebounds per game. He missed six games earlier this season with a broken right hand. He’s the nephew of former Texas Tech standout Tony Battie.

Against KU this season: Only played four minutes off of the bench, totaling two points, one rebound and one steal.

No. 21 — F Nuni Omot | 6-9, 205, sr.

Baylor forward Nuni Omot (21) drives to the basket between Oklahoma center Jamuni McNeace (4) and forward Kristian Doolittle (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.

Baylor forward Nuni Omot (21) drives to the basket between Oklahoma center Jamuni McNeace (4) and forward Kristian Doolittle (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.

In the last five games, Omot (pronounced: NOO-nee OH-maht) is averaging 14 points in 26.4 minutes. In those games, he’s connected on 42 percent of his shots from behind the 3-point arc. He was on the junior-varsity basketball team in his junior year of high school, growing six inches in the summer before his senior year. He started his college career at Division II Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn.

Against KU this season: Tied for a team-high 14 points, making 3 of his 4 shot attempts and all seven free-throw attempts. Added two rebounds and a steal.

ONE THING BAYLOR DOES WELL

With a mix of its size and zone defense, Baylor leads the conference in field goal percentage defense since the start of Big 12 play. Opposing teams are only shooting 42 percent, while the Bears boast the best rebounding margin in the conference (plus-3.8).

ONE AREA BAYLOR STRUGGLES

Throughout Big 12 play, the Bears have struggled with turnovers. In the last five games, Baylor has been outscored 96-67 in points off turnovers. The Bears are having trouble with preventing their own turnovers (15 in the first meeting vs. KU) and taking advantage with opposing teams give the ball away.

MEET THE NEW RECRUITING CLASS

Baylor signed two players during the early signing period last fall: Matthew Mayer and Darius Allen. Mayer, a 6-foot-7, 195-pound small forward, is ranked 98th in the nation by Rivals. He averaged 13 points and seven rebounds in the EYBL last year. Allen is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Palm Beach State, averaging 14.4 points this season.

Along with the early signees, the Bears plan to add Makai Mason, from Yale (16 points per game in 2015-16), alongside Mississippi State transfer Mario Kegler, who played in high school with Malik Newman.

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 1.5. I think KU will play it’s two-big lineup a little more than usual, which will make a big difference on the glass. Perhaps the biggest concern will be slowing down Manu Lecomte, especially after the Jayhawks played such strong defense against him in the first meeting.

My prediction: Kansas 73, Baylor 68. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 13-10.

Reply 1 comment from Marius7782

Reviewing the 2017 Kansas football recruiting class

Kansas wide receiver Quan Hampton (6) is pushed out of bounds by Ohio cornerback Jalen Fox (21) and Ohio cornerback Mayne Williams (2) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.

Kansas wide receiver Quan Hampton (6) is pushed out of bounds by Ohio cornerback Jalen Fox (21) and Ohio cornerback Mayne Williams (2) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. by Nick Krug

A little more than a year has passed since Kansas football coach David Beaty introduced his 2017 recruiting class on National Signing Day.

The group, which featured a few starters, was ranked No. 57 in the nation by Rivals. Obviously, it didn’t translate to extra wins last season, but it likely will feature more than a few contributors to next year’s squad.

In last year’s recruiting class, the Jayhawks had nine players from the Juco ranks and 12 from high schools. Among the 21-player class, seven redshirted and Octavius Matthews was forced to end his career because of a heart condition.

From starters to redshirts, and everything in between, a breakdown of how the Class of 2017 looked at the end of its first season:

Peyton Bender, QB: From Itawamba CC, Bender earned the starting quarterback job out of fall camp. The 6-foot-1 signal caller lost his job after back-to-back shutouts against Iowa State and TCU. He returned as a starter in the team’s final game, ending the season with 1,609 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 54 percent of his passes.

Earl Bostick, OL/TE: Projected to be on the offensive line with his 6-foot-6, 270-pound frame, Bostick made some appearances at tight end, a position he played in high school. Bostick caught an eight-yard touchdown in a loss to Texas, his only reception of the season.

Antonio Cole, CB: After playing at a pair of junior colleges in his first two collegiate seasons, Cole only played sparingly last season. He didn’t record any stats, participating in two losses when KU dealt with injuries.

Hasan Defense, CB: Starting in the secondary for the entire season, the 5-foot-11 Defense led the team with nine pass breakups. From Kilgore College in Texas, he had 42 tackles (34 solo) and two interceptions.

Jay Dineen, LB: The Lawrence native, out of Free State High, redshirted and couldn’t practice at the end of the season because of an injury.

Texas Tech defensive lineman Nick McCann (98) gives a slap to Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) after a pass during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Texas Tech defensive lineman Nick McCann (98) gives a slap to Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) after a pass during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Joey Gilbertson, OL: The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Gilbertson, from Wichita, redshirted in his first year in the program. Beaty highlighted his wrestling background during last year’s signing day.

Quan Hampton, WR: After shining throughout fall camp, the speedy 5-foot-8, 170-pound slot receiver quickly found a role on the offense. He had 21 catches for 145 yards in six games, missing the end of the season because of a season-ending injury. He returned two kickoffs for a total of 30 yards.

J.J. Holmes, DT: Out of Hutchinson CC, the 6-foot-3, 335-pound Holmes didn’t start playing football until his senior year of high school. He became a starter at defensive tackle, recording 24 tackles (2 for loss), one sack and one quarterback hurry.

Kerr Johnson, WR: With injuries piling up at the end of the season, Johnson earned more playing time. The junior college transfer from California had eight catches for 92 yards.

Kyron Johnson, LB: A backup linebacker, Johnson graduated from high school early and participated in spring football last year. Listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Johnson had 17 tackles and one forced fumble.

Liam Jones, K: Handled kickoff duties but lost the field goal competition to Gabriel Rui during fall camp. He recorded 17 touchbacks in 48 kickoffs.

Travis Jordan, WR: From Landry Walker High in New Orleans, the same school as safety Mike Lee and incoming cornerback Corione Harris, the 6-foot-2 Jordan dealt with some “health issues,” according to Beaty, at the beginning of fall camp and redshirted.

Octavius Matthews, RB: It was announced in August that Matthews had a heart condition and his college football career was over. His mother, Kristy Bradford, died due to heart complications last year.

Willie McCaleb, DL: Once viewed as a player who could start at defensive end opposite of Dorance Armstrong, the junior college transfer didn’t play in a game last season.

Cooper Root, LB: Out of Wichita Collegiate, Root redshirted last season. Listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Beaty said at last year’s signing day that he could line up as an inside or outside linebacker.

Kansas running back Dom Williams (25) is hit by Iowa State defensive end J.D. Waggoner (58) on a run during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas running back Dom Williams (25) is hit by Iowa State defensive end J.D. Waggoner (58) on a run during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

KeyShaun Simmons, DL: By the end of the season, the 6-foot-2, 285-pound Simmons emerged as a reliable contributor on the defensive line. From Pearl River CC, he finished the year with 19 tackles (4.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks.

Kenyon Tabor, WR: The 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver from Derby (Kan.) sat out the entire season because of an injury. Before Tabor’s injury, Beaty described him as a “promising” receiver.

Shakial Taylor, CB: Taylor earned the starting nod out of fall camp and held the spot until he suffered a season-ending injury. The 6-foot, 175-pound junior college transfer made 22 tackles with three pass breakups.

Robert Topps, CB: Bigger than most players at his position, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder from Chicago is expected to develop as a cornerback. He redshirted during the season, but defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said in fall camp, “We have to invest time in Robert.”

Dom Williams, RB: One of the most-hyped recruits in the class, Williams was a four-star prospect. Battling injuries, his playing time was inconsistent, but the McKinney, Texas native finished the year with 176 yards and three touchdowns on 51 attempts. He added seven catches for 49 yards.

Takulve Williams, WR: Another player in the New Orleans to KU pipeline, Williams redshirted last season.

Reply 6 comments from Layne Pierce Spk15 Dirk Medema Bobby Nightengale John Brazelton Steve Corder

Getting to know: TCU basketball

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) drives against TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) drives against TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

After losses last weekend, Kansas coach Bill Self and TCU coach Jamie Dixon both said their teams “got what we deserved.” Now both teams will try to bounce back against each other.

The Jayhawks will try to remain in at least in a tie atop the Big 12 standings when they play host to TCU at 8 p.m. Tuesday (TV: ESPN) at Allen Fieldhouse. Both Kansas and Texas Tech have 7-3 records in Big 12 play while West Virginia is 7-4.

The Horned Frogs (16-7, 4-6 Big 12) are without starting guard Jaylen Fisher, who suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and underwent season-ending surgery in the middle of January. They’ve struggled to find consistency without Fisher, posting a 3-3 record.

When the two teams met on Jan. 6 in Fort Worth, the Jayhawks (18-5, 7-3) held off TCU down the stretch with key free throws by Devonte’ Graham.

“We have to do a better job, obviously, defending and rebounding,” Self said. “Rebounding is obviously a huge, huge thing with us. If you’re going to play as small as we play, you’ve got to play tougher. We’ve been saying that all year long.”

Fun fact: TCU is looking for its second win ever against a ranked team on the road. The Horned Frogs have a 1-77 all-time road record vs. teams in the AP Top 25 with their lone win on Jan. 19, 1998 at No. 24 Hawai’i.

Fun fact II: In their last nine games, the Horned Frogs have outscored or tied each opponent in the second half. It’s only resulted in a 3-6 record.

Series history: Kansas leads 15-2. The Horned Frogs have an 0-6 record inside of Allen Fieldhouse.

BREAKING DOWN TCU

TOP PLAYER

No. 34 — G Kenrich Williams | 6-7, 210, sr.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) and Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) compete for a rebound with TCU guard Kenrich Williams (34) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) and Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) compete for a rebound with TCU guard Kenrich Williams (34) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

Williams ranks second in the Big 12 in rebounding, averaging 13.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in conference play. He’s recorded four double-doubles against Big 12 opponents, shooting 34.1 percent from the 3-point line.

A pesky defender, the fifth-year senior from Waco, Texas, has snagged 14 steals in conference play. He missed the entire 2015-16 season because of a knee injury. Out of high school, Williams had zero Div. I basketball offers. He opted to play his freshman season at New Mexico Junior College before transferring to TCU.

Against KU this season: 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting with 11 rebounds, five assists and one steal in 32 minutes.

  • “His offensive numbers have gotten better as we’ve gotten the understanding of where he needs to be and what positions to put him in,” coach Jamie Dixon said.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 10 — F Vlad Brodziansky | 6-11, 230, fr.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for a rebound with TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky (10) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for a rebound with TCU forward Vladimir Brodziansky (10) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

Brodziansky (pronounced: BROAD-Zee-ON-ski) has shined in Big 12 play with a team-best 17.3 points per game on 52.3 percent shooting and an 88.1 percent mark at the free-throw line. From Slovakia, he’s shooting 71 percent at the rim this season, according to hoop-math.com. He leads the team with 44 blocks.

Against KU this season: Scored 20 points (10 of 10 at the free-throw line) with five rebounds, two assists and one block.

No. 1 — G Desmond Bane | 6-5, 215, so.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a three against TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a three against TCU guard Desmond Bane (1) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

A dangerous 3-point shooter, Bane is averaging 10.7 points while connecting on 44.4 percent of his attempts from behind the arc in conference play. He’s added 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He’s made at least one 3-pointer in 15 of his last 16 games.

Against KU this season: Made 3 of 7 shots from the 3-point line, scoring 13 points with four rebounds and two assists in 37 minutes.

No. 25 — G Alex Robinson | 6-1, 175, jr.

Wanting a foul called on a three point shot, TCU guard Alex Robinson (25) throws his hands in the air during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena.

Wanting a foul called on a three point shot, TCU guard Alex Robinson (25) throws his hands in the air during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 at Schollmaier Arena. by Nick Krug

Handling the majority of point guard duties with Jaylen Fisher out, Robinson has helped the offense with 7.0 assists per game in Big 12 play. An athletic player with a 44-inch vertical, Robinson is averaging 8.6 points against conference opponents but struggled at the free-throw line (48 percent). He had 17 assists, a Big 12 record, against Iowa State in January.

Against KU this season: In 32 minutes off of the bench, he had two points (1-of-8 shooting), seven assists, three turnovers and two rebounds.

No. 12 — F Kouat Noi | 6-7, 210, r-fr.

From Australia, Noi (pronounced: KWOT NOY) has transformed into the team’s top 3-point threat in Big 12 play. Noi is shooting 47.7 percent from deep on 44 attempts, averaging 10.7 points off of the bench. “I’d be lying if I expected him to lead the conference in that aspect,” coach Jamie Dixon said. He’s added 3.4 rebounds per game.

Against KU this season: Scored six points off of the bench in 14 minutes, making 3 of his 6 shots to go along with four rebounds.

ONE THING TCU DOES WELL

In a conference with plenty of talented offensive teams, nobody shoots better than TCU. The Horned Frogs, averaging 84.5 points against Big 12 opponents, rank 11th in the nation in field goal percentage (50.4 percent) and 13th from the 3-point line (41.2 percent). In Big 12 play, they average five more assists than any other team.

ONE AREA TCU STRUGGLES

As well as the Horned Frogs shoot 3-pointers, they allow opposing teams to shoot even better from behind the arc. TCU does a decent job of limiting the amount of attempts from other teams, but in Big 12 play, opponents have connected on 43.1 percent of their 3s. In TCU’s last seven games, only one team (West Virginia) shot worse than 42 percent.

MEET THE NEW RECRUITING CLASS

TCU signed four players in November’s early signing period. Kaden Archie, a 6-6 small forward, and Kendric Davis, a 5-11 point guard, are both ranked in the Top 100 by Rivals and considered four-star prospects.

The Horned Frogs added Russell Barlow, a 6-10 center with a 7-foot wingspan and Angus McWilliam, 6-11 center/forward from New Zealand. McWilliam actually joined the team in early January and has been practicing but will redshirt this semester.

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 7.5. A lot of eyes will be on the Jayhawks after Bill Self blasted his team’s effort and announced a change to the starting lineup. I expect KU to improve its rebounding. On the other side, TCU is a desperate team trying to improve after losing three of its last five games. My guess is KU will have a strong start, but TCU will fight back at the start of the second half and keep it close.

My prediction: Kansas 82, TCU 77. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 12-10.

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Kansas basketball offers scholarship to KC wing Ochai Agbaji

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Ochai Agbaji, who received a scholarship offer to play basketball at Kansas on Saturday afternoon, doesn’t match the profile of most KU recruits. He isn’t listed as a five-star prospect. He wasn’t on the shortlist of players considered for the McDonald’s All-American Game.

The offer from Kansas represents his meteoric rise in recruiting over the last few weeks. From Oak Park High in Kansas City (Mo.), Agbaji landed his first Power Five offer on Jan. 26 from Texas A&M. In a little more than a week, he’s added Wisconsin, Oregon, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Kansas to his list of suitors.

Through 18 games of his senior year in high school, the 6-foot-5, 195-pound Agbaji is averaging 27.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists while leading Oak Park to a 16-2 record. He’s scored at least 24 points in his last seven games.

Agbaji went on an unofficial visit to Allen Fieldhouse during KU’s loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, watching from behind the team’s bench. He took two earlier visits in January, plus Bill Self and Larry Brown attended one of his recent high school games.

“I got to see their new locker room and all of that stuff,” Agbaji told Rivals before his offer from KU. “I got to meet Bill Self and talk with him. He's very interested in me and said they are looking for a wing like me who is strong, tough and can shoot the ball."

Before picking up a flurry of offers from Power Five programs, Agbaji had offers from Fresno State, Loyola (Chicago), Colorado State, Northern Iowa and New Orleans. He took an official visit to Colorado State in January.

Showcasing his athleticism in his senior season, he’s proven he can score from anywhere on the floor whether it’s above the rim, posting up with his back to the basket or powerful downhill drives. His sister, Orie, plays volleyball at Texas and their parents both played basketball at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Jayhawks have already signed guards Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes, along with center David McCormack, in their 2018 recruiting class. Five-star guard Romeo Langford, from New Albany, Ind., has KU listed among his final three choices with Indiana and Vanderbilt.

Langford scored a career-high 63 points Thursday with six 3-pointers, prompting students to chant, “IU! IU!” He’s not expected to announce his decision until at least late March.

For Agbaji, it sounds like he’s enjoyed all of the recent attention that’s come with being one of the highest-rising prospects in the Midwest.

"I'm just looking for the school that's the right fit," Agbaji told Rivals more than a week ago. "A school that I can go in and be effective as a freshman right away. I'd probably be a better fit in uptempo but that doesn't really matter because I just want a good coach who can make me better as a player."

None by Ochai Agbaji

Reply 16 comments from Plasticjhawk Tony Bandle Kyle Rohde Allan Olson Texashawk10_2 Gerry Butler Bobby Nightengale Mlbenn35 Steve Johnson Surrealku and 1 others

Getting to know: Oklahoma State basketball

Oklahoma State guard Kendall Smith (1) shoots between Oklahoma guard Jordan Shepherd, left, and guard Kameron McGusty (20) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

Oklahoma State guard Kendall Smith (1) shoots between Oklahoma guard Jordan Shepherd, left, and guard Kameron McGusty (20) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

In terms of momentum, Oklahoma State doesn’t have much of it heading into its matchup against Kansas at 11 a.m. Saturday (TV: CBS) at Allen Fieldhouse. The Cowboys have lost their last three games and they are still searching for their first road win.

Near the bottom of the conference standings, the Cowboys (13-9, 3-6 Big 12) have shown flashes of their potential on the road. There was the five-point loss at Texas Tech, four-point loss at Kansas State and six-point loss at West Virginia.

The Cowboys are still without their second-leading scorer Tavarius Shine, who is out with a left wrist injury. Oklahoma State is 0-3 without him.

Despite some recent losses, the Big 12-leading Jayhawks (18-4, 7-2) certainly won’t be taking OSU or any team in the conference lightly.

“The pieces to me just fit,” KU coach Bill Self. “They don't have guys, other than Jeffrey (Carroll), that were pre-season all Big 12 type guys. You watch them play, man, (Kendall) Smith, the transfer, he's really good. Lindy Waters is really good. Mitchell Solomon is one of the best all-around big guys in our league, without question.”

Fun fact: In Oklahoma State’s last eight games, six of them were decided by two possessions or less, or in overtime.

Series history: Kansas leads 113-57. The Jayhawks have won the last three meetings and own a 47-9 record inside of Allen Fieldhouse against the Cowboys.

BREAKING DOWN OKLAHOMA STATE

TOP PLAYER

No. 30 — G/F Jeffrey Carroll | 6-6, 220, r-sr.

Oklahoma State guard Jeffrey Carroll, center, drives the ball between TCU guards Kenrich Williams, left, and Alex Robinson in the first half of a NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.

Oklahoma State guard Jeffrey Carroll, center, drives the ball between TCU guards Kenrich Williams, left, and Alex Robinson in the first half of a NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.

A unanimous preseason all-Big 12 selection, Carroll is averaging a team-best 15.8 points on 32.7 shooting from the 3-point line, which is a big dip from last season (44.4 percent). He’s adding 6.2 rebounds per game, leading the team with a total of 86 defensive rebounds.

According to hoop-math.com, Carroll is only shooting 25.5 percent on mid-range jumpers. From Rowlett, Texas, he’s recorded six 20-plus point performances this season.

In two games against Kansas last year, Carroll totaled 50 points on 18 of 31 shooting with 11 rebounds and four assists. His dad played college basketball at East Texas Baptist University.

  • “Being the main guy, I can't play bad,” Carroll told the Oklahoman. “I have to play more consistent. That's kind of my whole mindset right now 'cause I will play probably two to three games well, and then play a bad one, so trying to just take out that game from these last 10.”

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 1 — G Kendall Smith | 6-3, 190, sr.

A graduate transfer from CSUN, Smith has immediately made an impact with 10.9 points, 3.0 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 35 percent from behind the 3-point arc and 76 percent at the free-throw line.

Smith has played off of the bench in the last five games. From Antioch, Calif., he played his freshman season at UNLV and was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year before transferring to CSUN. His older brother, Quincy, played basketball at Hawai’i.

No. 41 — F Mitchell Solomon | 6-9, 250, sr.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets up to snag a pass to Oklahoma State forward Mitchell Solomon (41) during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets up to snag a pass to Oklahoma State forward Mitchell Solomon (41) during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

An important glue guy for the Cowboys, Solomon doesn’t shoot a ton but he makes up for it with his leadership. Solomon is averaging 7.8 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds. He leads Oklahoma State with 68 offensive boards, 30 more than any other player, and has recorded 27 blocks.

The son of two OSU graduates, Solomon is shooting 58.3 percent depute a 3 of 22 mark from the 3-point line. He’s made 87.5 percent of his free throws. He ranks fifth in program history in offensive rebounds.

No. 21 — G Lindy Waters III | 6-6, 205, so.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) knocks a ball loose from Oklahoma State guard Lindy Waters III (21) for a steal during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) knocks a ball loose from Oklahoma State guard Lindy Waters III (21) for a steal during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A versatile defender, Waters is shooting 31.7 percent from the 3-point arc while averaging 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds. He leads the Cowboys with 23 steals. In the last three games, he’s scored at least 10 points in each of them while shooting 12 of 22 from the field.

From Norman, Okla., he played in high school alongside Trae Young. According to the Tulsa World, Waters has drawn 15 charges this season.

No. 0 — G Brandon Averette | 5-11, 185, so.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) steals a ball from Oklahoma State guard Brandon Averette (0) during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) steals a ball from Oklahoma State guard Brandon Averette (0) during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

A backup point guard to Jawun Evans last year, Averette is averaging 8.2 points and 3.4 assists per game. He’s a recent addition to the starting lineup, he’s primarily a mid-range shooter. He’s only attempted 20.8 percent of his shots at the rim, according to hoop-math.com, which is the second-lowest mark on the team.

He was originally signed to play at Stephen F. Austin and followed Brad Underwood to Stillwater. to become the former coach’s first signee.

ONE THING OKLAHOMA STATE DOES WELL

With a lot of length from its perimeter defenders, Oklahoma State is one of the top teams in the conference at forcing turnovers. In nine Big 12 games, the Cowboys have forced at least 14 turnovers in six of them. They rank only behind Kansas State with 7.3 steals per Big 12 game.

ONE AREA OKLAHOMA STATE STRUGGLES

The Cowboys give opposing teams plenty of opportunities to score at the free-throw line. Oklahoma State has issues with fouling, giving Big 12 opponents an average of 25.3 attempts at the charity stripe.

MEET THE COACH

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton shouts in overtime of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. Oklahoma State won 83-81 in overtime.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton shouts in overtime of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. Oklahoma State won 83-81 in overtime.

Mike Boynton, 36, is in his first head coaching position after replacing Brad Underwood. Prior to his time in Stillman, Boynton was an assistant at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina.

A point guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., Boynton led South Carolina to the NCAA Tournament in 2004. He finished in the top 10 in made 3-pointers and fourth in games played in program history.

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 12. Which version of the Jayhawks will show up on Saturday morning? The version that won Big 12 games by razor-thin margins, including games at home or the version that showed up in double-digit wins over Texas A&M and Kansas State? Jeffrey Carroll, as he proved last season, always seems to step up his game when he's facing Kansas.

My prediction: Kansas 79, Oklahoma State 71. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 11-10.

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Getting to know: Kansas State basketball

Kansas State guard Barry Brown (5) puts up a three defended by Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) with less than a second remaining in regulation, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas State guard Barry Brown (5) puts up a three defended by Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) with less than a second remaining in regulation, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

After a one-point loss inside of Allen Fieldhouse earlier this month, Kansas State has transformed into the hottest Big 12 team with four straight wins, moving into a four-way tie for second place in the conference standings.

The Wildcats will welcome Kansas to Bramlage Coliseum at 8 p.m. Monday (TV: ESPN) for the second edition of the Sunflower Showdown, attempting to win their third straight game against a ranked opponent. The last three rivalry games have been decided by three points or less.

K-State (16-5, 5-3) is still playing without junior point guard Kamau Stokes (broken foot) but junior guard Barry Brown and junior forward Dean Wade have more than picked up the offense. The duo ranks second and third in scoring, respectively, during Big 12 play.

“I think we’ve matured a lot,” Wade told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “At the end of games, we don’t panic like we used to. We’re playing strong and confident.”

After wins against Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor and Georgia, the Wildcats are ranked No. 35 by KenPom and No. 39 by ESPN’s BPI. In both metrics, Wildcats are sixth among Big 12 teams.

Fun fact: Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996-97, the Jayhawks own a 62-20 all-time record on ESPN Big Monday.

Series history: Kansas leads 194-93 after winning the last six meetings.

BREAKING DOWN KANSAS STATE

TOP PLAYER

No. 32 — F Dean Wade | 6-10, 228, jr.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets to the bucket under Kansas State forward Dean Wade (32) and Kansas State forward Makol Mawien (14) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) gets to the bucket under Kansas State forward Dean Wade (32) and Kansas State forward Makol Mawien (14) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A dangerous shooter at the 3-point line and in the mid-range, Wade is averaging 16.2 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds. He’s scoring more than 20 points per game in conference play, shooting an efficient 60.6 percent against Big 12 opponents.

Wade has scored in double figures in nine straight games, connecting on 16 of his 30 attempts from the 3-point arc. The St. John, Kan., native ranks second on the team in steals (34) and blocks (16).

Against KU this season: 22 points (8 of 14 shooting), six rebounds, two assists and four turnovers in 38 minutes.

  • “It was just a matter of when,” KSU coach Bruce Weber said. “I think he had to figure it out on his own and hopefully it continues. I don’t know if he’s going to be 9 for 12 every game, but he’s a really good player, a really talented player.”

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 5 — G Barry Brown Jr. | 6-3, 195, jr.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) defends against a shot from Kansas State guard Barry Brown (5) during the first half, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) defends against a shot from Kansas State guard Barry Brown (5) during the first half, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017 at Bramlage Coliseum. by Nick Krug

Brown has taken his game to a different level in the past month. He’s averaging 22.8 points against conference opponents, which ranks second to Oklahoma’s Trae Young, and shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from the 3-point line. Known as a tough defender, he leads the Wildcats with 43 steals.

Against KU this season: 12 points (5 of 14 shooting), five rebounds, six assists and three turnovers in 39 minutes.

No. 2 — G Cartier Diarra | 6-4, 190, r-fr.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) loses his footing as Kansas State guard Cartier Diarra (2) goes up to the bucket during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) loses his footing as Kansas State guard Cartier Diarra (2) goes up to the bucket during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Filling in for Kamau Stokes at point guard, Diarra has been an electric spark for the Wildcats. Since joining the starting lineup, Diarra (pronounced: car-tee-YAY JOTT-ah) is averaging 13.2 points on 58.3 percent shooting. He ranks second on the team with a 44.4 percentage from the 3-point line. He missed last season because of a torn ACL.

Against KU this season: 18 points (7 of 11 shooting, 3 of 5 from 3), four rebounds, two steals and three turnovers in 35 minutes.

No. 20 — F Xavier Sneed | 6-5, 212, so.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) elevates to defend against a shot form Kansas State forward Xavier Sneed (20) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) elevates to defend against a shot form Kansas State forward Xavier Sneed (20) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Primarily a 3-point shooter, Sneed has struggled to find his shooting touch throughout the past month. In the past seven games, he’s only made 9 of his last 32 attempts from deep. On the season, the St. Louis native is averaging 11 points and 4.4 rebounds. He leads the team in free-throw percentage (86.5).

Against KU this season: 14 points (5 of 11 shooting, 2 of 6 from 3), seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 37 minutes.

No. 14 — F Makol Mawien | 6-9, 225, so.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) is fouled on the shot by Kansas State forward Makol Mawien (14) with seconds remaining during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) is fouled on the shot by Kansas State forward Makol Mawien (14) with seconds remaining during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The only starter who isn’t averaging 30 minutes, Mawien has recorded 6.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 18.6 minutes per game. He leads the Wildcats with 22 blocks and ranks second with 25 offensive rebounds. He spent a redshirt freshman season at Utah before transferring to New Mexico Junior College.

Against KU this season: Four points (1 of 3 shooting) and two blocks.

ONE THING KANSAS STATE DOES WELL

Throughout Big 12 play, the Wildcats have defended the 3-point arc well. Only Kansas has made more than eight 3-pointers in a game or shot better than 35 percent. During K-State’s four-game winning streak, opposing teams have shot 26.4 percent from deep.

ONE AREA KANSAS STATE STRUGGLES

It hasn’t been much of an issue in recent games because the Wildcats have shot so well, but they are not a team that opposing teams need to worry about on the offensive glass. K-State has recorded a Big 12-low 6.8 offensive rebounds per game in conference play, well behind any other team.

MEET THE NEW RECRUITING CLASS

The Wildcats signed point guard Shaun Williams, from St. Louis, in the November signing period. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Williams, a three-star prospect by Rivals, plays at Hazelwood Central, the same school that produced Xavier Sneed. He averaged 18.6 points and 2.8 assists last year.

VEGAS SAYS…

Kansas by 1.5. During the first game between the in-state rivals, the Jayhawks caught Barry Brown on an off night (even before he missed the desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer). Cartier Diarra was magnificent vs. KU, but I think it’s tougher when Brown catches fire, especially when teams have to find a way to defend Dean Wade. As great as the Jayhawks have played in close, late-game situations against KSU, will Hack-a-Dok force lineup changes?

My prediction: Kansas State 76, Kansas 72. Bobby’s record vs. the spread: 11-9.

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How valuable is Devonte’ Graham? A look at how much KU struggles without him

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham inbounds the ball during the second half on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham inbounds the ball during the second half on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Devonte’ Graham is averaging a team-best 17.3 points and 7.3 assists during his senior season. He’s on pace to finish just shy of the Kansas basketball program’s single-season assist record. And he’s probably more valuable than any of his individual numbers could indicate.

Since the start of Big 12 play, consider this: Graham has sat on the bench for a little more than 10 minutes. Without him on the floor, Kansas has scored on six of its 20 offensive possessions.

The highest-scoring offense in the Bill Self era revolves around Graham. There's a lack of scoring depth off the bench and the Jayhawks are still searching for a reliable backup point guard. Another part of it is the leadership Graham provides, directing players to the right spots on offense and defense.

via GIPHY

In Big 12 play, Graham leads the conference with 38.8 minutes per game. He’s slightly ahead of Dylan Osetkowski (Texas, 38.5), Kenrich Williams (TCU, 38.4) and Nick Weiler-Babb (Iowa State, 38.1). Graham is well ahead of Frank Mason III’s average of 37.2 minutes in Big 12 games last year and Mason finished third in program history for minutes played in a season.

When Graham is sitting on the bench against Big 12 opponents, the Jayhawks have been outscored by 20 points. That number is magnified considering KU has won all six of its conference games by six points or less.

It’s a big reason why Graham has sat for 28 seconds of game time in the last four outings: wins over West Virginia, Baylor and Texas A&M, and a road loss to Oklahoma.

“It's hard to take him out,” Self said. “Nor does he want to come out.”

In some games, Self has tried to help Graham take a longer breather by subbing him out right before a media timeout. It hasn’t been effective because even in short spurts the Jayhawks aren’t the same without their point guard.

A look at how the Jayhawks have fared without their senior leader in Big 12 play:

Kansas 92, Texas 86

In a sign of things to come, Graham sat for a little less a minute-and-a-half. Leading by five points when he exited in the first half, the Jayhawks gave up a pair of 3-pointers on defense and only scored when Svi Mykhailiuk was fouled on a 3-point shot.

With Graham on the bench, the Jayhawks didn’t have the same level of ball movement. Shots seemed more forced. Sitting with a 22-17 lead, Graham returned in 88 seconds with the game tied at 25-all.

via GIPHY

Texas Tech 85, Kansas 73

Trailing for the entire game, Graham played all 40 minutes.

Kansas 88, TCU 84

When Graham went to the bench, TCU’s offense thrived. In the first half, the Horned Frogs went on a 6-0 run with back-to-back 3-pointers from guard Jaylen Fisher. Udoka Azubuike committed a turnover in the only first-half possession without Graham as he caught a breather for less than a minute.

Later in the first half, Self tried to give Graham a break before a media timeout. Lagerald Vick made a layup but KU’s offense shot 1 for 3 in less than two minutes while TCU cut into the Jayhawks’ lead with another pair of 3-pointers.

Kansas 83, Iowa State 78

If there was any question about Graham’s impact, look no further than a three-possession stretch without him in the second half. Graham took a breather at the 10:31 mark with KU holding a 66-59 lead.

On back-to-back defensive possessions, the Jayhawks lost track of ISU’s leading scorer Donovan Jackson, who drilled his fifth and sixth 3-pointers of the game. Those triples were sandwiched around a turnover when Vick tried to find Udoka Azubuike on a lob. In less than a minute, KU’s lead was down to one and Self called a timeout to bring Graham off the bench.

via GIPHY

During the first half, Graham sat for about 90 seconds. The Jayhawks actually increased their lead by a point when freshman Marcus Garrett made his lone 3-pointer in conference play. KU still shot 1 of 3 without him directing the offense.

Kansas 73, Kansas State 72

Graham sat for nearly three minutes in the first half, his longest break of the conference season, because he picked up two fouls in the first eight minutes. The Jayhawks actually extended their lead by two points, holding the Wildcats to four points on 1 of 3 shooting. Azubuike led KU’s offense with six points in that stretch.

In the second half, Graham returned to the bench briefly after picking up his third foul. KU’s offense went scoreless in two possessions with Malik Newman and Garrett alternating at point guard.

via GIPHY

Kansas 71, West Virginia 66

Helping the Jayhawks end a four-year losing streak in Morgantown, Graham played all 40 minutes.

Kansas 70, Baylor 67

Graham only sat on the bench for one possession in the first half with ESPN play-by-play announcer Rich Hollenburg saying, “Devonte’ Graham on the bench … something you won’t hear me say too often tonight.” Vick was called for an offensive foul while Graham sat for 17 seconds of game clock.

Oklahoma 85, Kansas 80

Entering the much-hyped matchup between Graham and Trae Young, Self said the plan was to sit Graham whenever Young went to the bench. Young played all 40 minutes. Graham fouled out with 11 seconds left when the game was already decided.

“We had one guy who I felt was really capable of keeping Trae in front of him,” Self said. “And Devonte' did a great job of that for the most part.”

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